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New Elected Officials Prepare For Serving As The New Year Approaches

Tom McArthur

With the new year comes new challenges for newly-elected officials.

Spokane County assessor Tom Konis took the oath of office for the first time today [Monday]. And state legislator-elect Jenny Graham will assume her office in about two weeks.
Tom Konis’s campaign for county assessor was unusual in that involved two candidates from the same party sparring in a general election for an open office. And it involved a twist in that Konis trailed on Election Night, then pulled ahead as ballots trickled in. He won, but then there was a mandatory recount that took about two more weeks to confirm his victory.

On his swearing-in day, Konis smiled as he greeted supporters. He handed out gifts to several men and women who helped with his campaign and he accepted congratulations from Commissioner Josh Kerns.

“You now know the highs of highs on the campaign and the lows of lows," Kerns said as Konis nodded. "I’m just so happy for you. You’re going to see that, in this position, you’re going to be able to make peoples’ lives just that much better from what you’re able to do in this elected office.”

“I, Tom Konis.”

“Do solemnly swear," Kerns said.

“Do solemnly swear.”

“That I am legally qualified to assume the office of.”

“That I am legally qualified to assume the office of.”

“Spokane County assessor.”

“Spokane County assessor.”

When the oath was over, a standing-room only crowd signaled its approval.

Konis is a first-time elected official, but he’s worked in the assessor’s office for about 25 years and was one of its senior leaders.

“I think the transition will be a smooth one," he said. "Right now the assessor’s office is performing at a pretty good level. We rank at the top in just about every statistical category the Department of Revenue, who oversees all the assessors’ offices tracks, and we’re doing really well.”

Konis is one of only three new Spokane County elected officials. Republican Michael Baumgartner is giving up a state Senate seat to take over as treasurer. Deputy prosecutor Patrick Johnson is assuming a District Court judicial seat.

Credit Jenny Graham
Republican Jenny Graham is preparing to take a Sixth District state House seat when the legislature convenes on January 14.

Spokane has only one new state legislator who will be assuming office: Republican Jenny Graham, who won an open state House seat in the Sixth District. This will be her first go-round as an elected official, though she’s not a newcomer to Olympia. A few years ago, she was one of the driving forces behind a law that gives child sexual abuse survivors until their 30th birthday to report their experiences to authorities. She testified before legislative committees.

And now she’ll be on the other side of the dais, asking the questions and hearing testimony in the Judiciary, Public Safety and College Workforce and Development committees.

Graham has already begun her transition with an orientation visit to Olympia in early December.

“I had an opportunity to sit in on a school construction committee hearing and then there was a work group afterwards,” she said.

She’s also hired an aide to staff a local office in Spokane. She’ll soon move to Olympia to begin her first 105-day session.

“I’m going to be excited to be there and ready to work with other people. I’m just really looking forward to it," Graham said.

Washington state legislators will take their oaths of office on January 14. Idaho legislators have already been sworn in. Their session begins January 7.


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